Tatung’s Garden Café by Chef Myke "Tatung" Sarthou

December 21, 2011

At one corner of the 12-seater private room painted in deep crimson red silently sat a pile of books.  On top of it was a book about Dante Alighieri penned by Robert Royal.  A few steps away from where I was seated lay a novel by Umberto Eco among many other titles by different authors. Outside the beautiful garden, right beside one of the many tables was an open cabinet were more books silently sat beside each other. Staring at the lovely rainy afternoon where only beautiful things are bound to happen.

I was at Tatung’s Garden Café

There couldn’t be any other way to make me feel at home than the epiphany I have just witnessed.

What started out as a private kitchen, Chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou’s abode right in the heart of Sikatuna Village in Quezon City is now transformed into a restaurant open for public even without reservation aptly called Tatung’s Garden Café.  But despite the changes, the homey feel of the place wasn’t compromised.  People can still enjoy Chef Tatung’s interpretation of traditional dishes in an ambiance that exudes a bend from the usual commercialized dining scene.

According to Chef Tatung, “Straightforward Filipino Dishes” are the three words that best describe the food that this garden café offers.  Three words that reverberates in food preparation and echoes in every morsel of the dishes once it hits one’s palate.

Having created dishes out of inspiration at a given time, there used to be no staple menu at Chef Tatung’s private kitchen.  But the transformation of what was once a reservation-only restaurant calls for a more concrete and detailed line up as it open its door to a wide range of customers.  So during an intimate luncheon with some of my fellow foodie friends, Chef Tatung introduced to us some of the most delectable dishes included on their menu.
The luncheon started with a warm bowl of Molo Soup.  While I’ve always favored cream based soup for a starter, Tatung’s Molo Soup isn’t bad either.  The savory clear broth soup was light enough to whet my appetite as we waited for the next dishes.

For the appetizer we had Chicken Sisig Lettuce Wraps with Taro Shoestrings and Shrimp Okoy.  I am big when it comes to Sisig.  Given an option, there are two things that I consider a must when having Sisig.  Rice or beer.  These two in my opinion helps in cutting through the usual oily component of the dish.  I never had it wrapped in lettuce before so it was a welcome change for me, and I enjoyed it.  It helps that the Chicken Sisig wasn’t that oily to begin with while the lettuce adds a refreshing taste to the savory dish.  The Shrimp Okay for me is just okay.  I am not a big fan of Okoy, but the gushing of fellow foodies after taking a bite of their share I think says a lot about the dish.
Of the number of fried rice I have tasted over the years, Chef Tatung’s Favorite Fried Rice is definitely one of the best.  Shrimp, carrots, peanuts, scrambled eggs, turmeric, and spring onions are pretty much the usual ingredients but the way that the taste blend with each other and the way the texture of the rice and the other components of this dish plays together was remarkably pleasing to the palate. 
Chef Tatung’s Favorite Fried Rice
It can be easily pass off as Chicken Curry at first glance.  But in terms of taste, Chef Tatung's Chicken in Roasted Coconut and Yellow Ginger Sauce is so much better than the usual Chicken Curry..  The chicken was so tender and upon my first bite, juices oozes out of the meat that makes it all the more savory.  The yellow ginger sauce was surprisingly light to the palate.  I appreciate that the taste of the ginger wasn’t too overwhelming.  It just has the right amount of zing that gives its savory flavor an interesting kicks in every bite.
Chicken in Roasted Coconut in Yellow Ginger Sauce
The push and pull of the sour-savory-sweet taste of the tamarind glaze was what made this rather simple crispy fried tilapia special.  The skin was crispy; the meat was silky tender, and the rich sauce that binds the textures together adds pleasure to the tongue as the flavor willfully entertains the taste buds.
Tamarind-Glazed Butterflied Tilapia
One of my favorites among the dishes that was served to us was the Calderetang Kambing with Queso de Bola.  Caldereta is a savory dish by default but the incorporation of the rather strong flavor of queso de bola made this dish a feast of savory treat.  The mutton ragout was so tender and every shred of its meat screams savory flavor.
Calderetang Kambing with Queso de Bola
What can you expect from a pork belly that has been slow roasted with garlic and lemon grass for four good hours in a brick oven?  Chef Tatung’s Honey-Glazed Slow Roasted Pork Belly provides heavenly goodness that melts in your mouth after explosion of flavor that comes from the honey glaze.
Honey-Glazed Slow Roasted Pork Belly / Palabok Negra
Palabok Negra is basically rice noodles in squid ink sauce topped with slices of tender squid rings, smoked fish flakes, shrimp, chicharon, spring onions, and egg.  I am not a big fan of squid ink on my food but this dish was worth the try.  In fact, I can see myself having this again on my next visit.
Fresh Tuba Shake and Home Brewed Iced Tea
For the drinks we had the Fresh Tuba Shake and Home Brewed Iced Tea.  I love how the Fresh Tuba Shake gives out the distinct taste of the tuba without the zing f alcohol.  While I enjoyed the shake immensely, the Home Brewed Iced Tea that wasn’t too sweet was equally refreshing and enjoyable. 
Tsoknut Chocolate Cake and Fresh Fruit Halo-Halo with Gata
Our hearty lunch was sealed with Warm Tsoknut Chocolate Cake and Fresh Fruit Halo-Halo with Gata.  I was already full by dessert time but I the cake was too hard to resist.  The rich flavor of the chocolate blends perfectly well with the distinct taste of the Tsoknut.  I finished my share in no time because it was that good.  The natural sweetness of the fruits and the leche flan were already good on its own, but the creaminess of the coconut and the ice cream adds another dimension to the Halo-Halo.  While the cornflakes on top were definitely an added treat to the lovely play of texture.
Chef Myke "Tatung" Sarthou and some of his dishes

Overall the dishes at Tatung’s Garden Café impressed me.  The ingredients that Chef uses were obviously fresh making his dishes all the more palatable.  Well thought out line up on the menu are all interesting which only steeled my resolve to visit the place again sometime soon.

Since it is located at the residential area, the place is quiet and comfortably homey.  I heard the place looks stunning during night time, but I still have to find out.
Tatung’s Garden Café is located at 17 Matipid St. Sikatuna Village, Quezon City.  They are open from lunch to dinner time, Mondays to Sundays.  They are also open for catering services.  You may contact them at numbers 3526121 / 09158463234 or email them at cheftatung@gmail.com. Check out their website and Facebook page for more details and updates.

How to get to Tatung’s Garden Café (information from Chef Tatung’s website)

From Makati take Edsa and make a right turn at Kamias (after Cubao and before GMA) Quezon city. Go straight ahead until you reach the corner of Anonas st. where you will find Jollibee Anonas Branch, make a left turn and enter Sikatuna Village, go straight ahead towards Savemore supermarket  continue straight towards Anonas ext. then make a right turn at the 4th corner from SM.

From Quezon City Circle take Kalayaan Ave. then make a left at V Luna road then make another left turn towards Anonas ext. at the corner of Savemore Supermarket. Go straight ahead and make a right turn at the fourth corner after SM.


12 comments on "Tatung’s Garden Café by Chef Myke "Tatung" Sarthou"
  1. This looks like a real cool place, a definite must try. The pork belly looks awesome! Thanks for the tip!

  2. Another lovely post and photography, Yedy!

  3. Wow, all the dishes look great, and the tsoknut chocolate cake looks really sweet and delicious. There's always room for dessert, it's scientifically proven ;)

  4. the chicken curry reminded me of how my late grandma roasts the freshly grated coconut meat in the coconut shell itself, i am helping her in roasting it, combined with luyang dilaw, it really taste different from the standard menu using the curry powder :)

  5. I totally love your shots! I hope to try dining here soon. The food and the ambiance are too enticing for me to resist.. :)

  6. stumbled upon your blog. i live not too far from this area. will add this to the list of places i need to visit in the coming year.

  7. @the food dude - dude, the pork belly was awesome :)

  8. @Joy Calipes-Felizardo - Hi Joy, it's been a while! thank you for the kind words :)

  9. @Ducky - Indeed, there's always a room for dessert! :D

  10. @Joy - wow! that sounds delicious! :)

  11. @Con-Con San - welcome to my blog! :) Thank you for your comment. I also live quite far from the area but it's worth the travel time :)


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